The Cavaliers came out of the gate on fire against the Knicks and spent the rest of the game staving them off en route to a 113-106 win.
Cleveland led by as many as 22-points early behind a barrage of three-pointers, but soon went cold. In the second half, the team hit a total of one three-pointer on 11 attempts from distance.
The team was buoyed by what was arguably their strongest effort out of their guards all season. Collin Sexton, Matthew Dellavedova, Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood combined for 85 points in the win while consistently creating difficult shots against a long and active Knicks backcourt.
The Knicks for their part are missing several key pieces due to injury as well. Kristaps Porzingis gets the rightful headlines, but Courtney Lee, Trey Burke and Allonzo Trier are somehow an important part of what this Knicks team does. Emmanuel Mudiay and Tim Hardaway Jr. combined for 36 points, but did so on 36 shot attempts. For a defense as woeful as the Cavaliers, that’s always a win.
Things were made harder by an icy effort from the field from the team’s starting frontcourt. Alec Burks, Cedi Osman and spot-starter Channing Frye (what?). That trio finished an unsightly 1-16 from the field.
Dellavedova specifically has made a stunning resurgence to usefulness in his first games back with the team. He had been knocked way down the Bucks rotation and become something of an albatross on their books, but scored his only two double-digit outputs of the season with Cleveland.
Attention will be paid to the fact that the Cavaliers didn’t have Collin Sexton in for the final possession of the game. There’s an argument to be made that Sexton needs the reps, but it’s fair that Larry Drew is playing for wins, however he can get them.
In their first test without Tristan Thompson, the Cavaliers passed with flying colors. They next play Milwaukee on Friday. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.